On the Line: 'Sushi Dave' Fernandez, of Sushi At the Venetian Gentlemen's Club, Part One
Photo by Mary Pastrana
Sitting down for lunch at Twisted Vine in downtown Fullerton, Dave Fernandez and I talked about family, restaurant reviews and great wines. It wasn't quite a business meeting, more like two friends sharing a bite to eat. Of course, he periodically checked his iPhone for incoming reservations, mentioning it would be packed tonight. The life of this sushi chef starts with a 5:30 a.m. seafood order and ends whenever he decides to stop taking requests. But at the moment, it was about another glass of red.
Your earliest food memory:
Sitting at the dinner table all night because I wouldn't eat my green peas.
Favorite meal growing up:
My grandmother's corned beef hash flautas.
Lindo Michoacan (2) in Anaheim. I'm not gonna worry about lard; I want real Mexican food.
Most undervalued ingredient:
Salt. I salt everything. Sometimes people put too much. I hate low-sodium soy sauce. I use regular; I just tell people to use less.
Tell us about your jalapeño sauce.
I made the sauce by accident working at O Sushi eight years ago. The owner asked me to make something with a kick for happy hour. I started with jalapeños sautéed with sake and threw some anonymous ingredients. It was such a big hit people requested the concoction daily. So I blended big batches of it before work.
Sushi Dave's Jalapeño Sauce adds a smokey kick to any dish. Excellent on chicken, fresh fish, meats and vegetables. Mix into condiments for a spicy spread or dressing. Go to sushidave.net for recipes.
Where can we purchase it?
Currently, you can purchase it at Sushi At the Venetian. I'm working on a shopping cart on my website, sushidave.net. I'm also working with Sprouts Grocery Stores; hopefully, it will be there and at other specialty markets soon.
Who came up with your logo?
It was originally supposed to be my tattoo and was designed by Erica Stone. I had it transformed into my logo, and it was redesigned by Regan "Ray Gun" Fell.
What fast food do you admit to eating?
I love Del Taco after 2 a.m. It's the perfect food on the way home after a long night of making sushi.
What is your beverage of choice, and where do you get it?
Jameson [whiskey] is my drink.
How did you end up at The Venetian Gentlemen's Club?
A friend of mine brought me in to check the place out and said, "We have a perfect spot for you upstairs." I checked it out, and it was perfect-- away from the stage. You get the occasional dance that goes by. I met the owner, and it was a done deal. . . .
One food you can't live without:
Bacon, 'cuz it's bad for you.
What's the most money ever spent on a meal?
Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills. Party of four: $850. We had an assortment of everything on the menu, from green shrimp to Peking duck carved at the table. Evian water was, I believe, $14, and it kept coming. The sad part was I was still hungry when we left. [Editor's Note: Fortunately, he wasn't the one footing the bill.]
What did you create for the 10th anniversary of Shady Canyon Country Club?
They wanted something different, so they contacted me. I made poke salad served in a crispy wonton skin, topped with guacamole and Sushi Dave's Jalapeno Sauce. Next were Venetian Lollipops, which consisted of tuna, yellowtail, salmon, crabmeat and avocado wrapped in a cucumber peel. Other favorites I created were the seared salmon and lime roll, and the yellowtail and jalapeno roll.
What do you think of people who take photographs of their food?
I think it's cool that they are either posting it on Facebook or Instagram. I love it when guests sitting at the sushi bar are looking at their phone, asking me if I can make a dish. I look at their phone, and it's my dish they are looking at.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
It's either called papaitan or dinuguan. They're both Filipino dishes.
Sweet or savory?
Favorite places to eat (besides your own):
Honda Ya, Stubrik's.
You're making breakfast. What are you having?
Scrambled eggs, chorizo, bacon, and sausage. And a mimosa.
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